Buemi beats Vergne in thrilling Punta del Este finale


Andretti racer Matthew Brabham’s collision with the wall and subsequent safety car ignited a last lap sprint that saw e.dams-Renault’s Sébastien Buemi take his first win after Andretti’s Jean Eric-Vergne slowed and heartbreakingly ended his chance for a debut victory.

The win pushes Buemi into joint second in the standings with Virgin Racing’s Sam Bird, yet the win hardly looked secure in a race that took constant twists throughout.

Pole sitter Vergne had plenty of wheelspin at the race start, opening the door for China Racing’s Nelson Piquet Jr to push into the lead.

Buemi also made a quick start, brushing past team-mate Prost for third. It was a clean start for the Formula E grid, as the race settled into a pattern.

The first problems began on the second lap, Audi Sport ABT’s Daniel Abt once again had mechanical issues as he slowed before continuing.

Further up the field and both Piquet and Vergne were wringing the juice out of the batteries as they diced constantly through the opening laps, leaving them as far as 10% down on energy to the lurking e.dams duo of Buemi and Prost.

There was to be a short respite for the front two when Bird caught the kerb at the first chicane, catching air and colliding with the wall in a crash that saw his race ended and brought a disastrous weekend to a close.

The safety car returned to the pits at the end of the sixth lap and Piquet Jr started the seventh with aplomb after a great restart.

Vergne was to remain close, forcing the China Racing leader onto the defensive, as he used the track limits to hold him back over the following laps.

It was to frustrate the second placed driver who complained of fan boost failure to his team as yet another safety car came out on track for lap nine.

He wasn’t frustrated for long, just before the halfway mark the ex-Toro Rosso man found the breakthrough, pushing past Piquet Jr for the lead as the first car, with Karun Chandhok at the wheel, pitted.

Piquet Jr lost the lead and he was looking over his shoulder right away as Buemi looked to pounce, ending with a huge lock up for the latter that saw both drivers skip the chicane.

With batteries fading, particularly for Vergne, Venturi GP’s Stephane Sarrazin’s kerb launch and crash led to a safety car that saw most of the grid pile into the pits for the car change.

One man’s loss was another man’s gain, especially for team-mate Nick Heidfeld who left the pits in the lead. The joy was short lived, his stint in the pits was too short and saw the Venturi man handed a drive through penalty.

It gave Buemi the race lead for the first time, but team-mate Prost was handed a setback as his excessive power usage saw him follow the same fate as Heidfeld.

Buemi wasn’t allowed a comfortable lead and by lap 26, Vergne was back chasing for first only 0.8secs behind the fellow ex F1 driver.

However, another safety car intervention was to frustrate Vergne as Andretti’s Matthew Brabham replicated Sarrazin’s earlier incident. Hitting the kerbs, he launched and hit the wall.

It was a disappointing end for the youngster, who sat off the track clearly devastated, after he had shown great pace to move up the field, impressing in a wheel to wheel battle with Trulli GP’s Jarno Trulli for fifth.

The fourth safety car of the race ensured it would be an all-out sprint to the flag, with power percentages high across the field. Not only was the pace increasing, so were the errors as Buemi locked up again on the chicane under pressure from Vergne.

Buemi had just hung on and it proved to be enough as Vergne’s Andretti Renault-Spark slowed on the final lap, leaving Buemi unchallenged on his final run to the flag.

Piquet Jr capped an impressive weekend by following him across the line, while Lucas di Grassi made it three podiums out of three with a third place finish to hold first in the driver standings.

Fourth saw Trulli, a huge improvement on previous races, and the same could be said for fifth placed Jaime Alguersuari of Virgin Racing.

Mahindra Racing’s Bruno Senna completed a remarkable comeback from the back of the grid to take sixth ahead of Prost.

It was the Dragon Racing duo across the line next, with Jerome D’Ambrosio beating Oriol Servia to eighth in the intra team battle, before tenth was taken by Heidfeld.

Formula E takes a Christmas break, before the series returns and heads to Argentina in January for round four.